View Slideshow

Gesine Holschuh never set out to work in fashion.

The Hamburg native was a former business consultant with an engineering degree and an interest in social entrepreneurship. During a series of trips to South America, Holschuh became inspired when she visited a few women’s weaving collectives throughout the region.

Growing up, Holschuh said she would hand-knit sweaters during school when she was bored so the female weavers piqued her interest. “I decided I wanted to do something and I started working with some cooperatives there,” she said. “I wanted to respect [the artisans’] traditional craftsmanship but with more wearable designs.”

Holschuh tapped her friend, Marine Halna du Fretay, a designer who worked in the women’s ready-to-wear department of Hermès for more than 20 years, to help her adapt the weavers’ skills and styles to a more modern, European sensibility.

Fast forward to the first Wehve collection, which Holschuh, who is based in Brussels, launched more than two years ago. “It immediately got into nice stores — some really great stores in Europe,” she said. “And then, all of a sudden, I was working in fashion.”

Six seasons later, Halna du Fretay continues to consult on Wehve’s designs with Holschuh. Made entirely in Peru and Uruguay, the collection’s colorful, hand-loomed blanket wraps and ponchos are made from organically raised and harvested merino wool and baby alpaca combined with silks and linens. The pieces feature bright, kettle-dyed colors; fringe and leather trims, and graphic geometric patterns.

A few of the silhouettes have arm holes, but most of Wehve’s capes and cardigans are meant to drape effortlessly over the shoulders. “Weaving has its limitations. I couldn’t make a tightly fitted dress, nor would I want to,” she said. “I want to make something well-made with a good mentality behind it. [The shapes] aren’t complicated in design, but it’s something a little different to wear….It’s a bit of a statement, perfect for traveling on planes.”

The collection averages from about $450 to $550, with accessories, such as scarves and hats, retailing for a bit less. Wehve is stocked in 70 boutiques worldwide, including Isetan in Tokyo, Grethen House in Minnesota, Graanmarkt 13 in Antwerp and is also available for purchase at

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus